‘Time spent with the sick is holy time,’ Pope Francis has reaffirmed.
Pope Francis restated this in his message for the 23rd World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, 2015, a day instituted by John Paul II. The Vatican released the message today.
Addressed to those burdened with sickness, as well as to professionals and volunteers in the field of healthcare, the Pope’s message reflects on the phrase from the Book of Job: ‘I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,’ and does so specifically from the perspective of “sapienta cordis” (the wisdom of the heart).
Before delving into four meanings of this type of wisdom, the Pontiff explained that this ‘wisdom’ is not theoretical nor abstract, but rather a “way of seeing things infused in the Holy Spirit,” which exists in those who are sensitive to the suffering of others and can see in them the image of God.
Turning to the meanings, he said that the first and second were “serving” and “being with” our brothers and sisters, respectively.
When discussing the “serving” aspect, he said, “It is relatively easy to help someone for a few days, but it is difficult to look after a person for months or even years, in some cases, when he or she is no longer capable of expressing gratitude.”
“And yet, what a great path of sanctification this is!” he exclaimed.
In those difficult moments, the Holy Father said, we not only can rely in a special way on the closeness of the Lord, but also become a special means of support for the Church’s mission.
The second “being with” aspect, he said, invites us with lively faith to ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace to “appreciate the value of our often unspoken willingness” to spend time with these sisters and brothers who, thanks to our closeness and affection, feel more loved and comforted.</p>
“How great a lie, on the other hand, lurks behind certain phrases which so insist on the importance of “quality of life” that they make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!,” he condemned.
The third, he expressed, means going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters.
“Occasionally our world forgets the special value of time spent at the bedside of the sick, since we are in such a rush; caught up as we are in a frenzy of doing, of producing, we forget about giving ourselves freely, taking care of others, being responsible for others.” Behind this attitude, he noted, “there is often a lukewarm faith, which has forgotten the Lord’s words: ‘You did it unto me.’”
“For this reason, he added, “I would like once again to stress “the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters.”
The fourth, he said, means showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters without judging them. Here, he said, involves the suffering seeing their illness as the Cross of Jesus and calls for caregivers to take the time needed to spend with the sick.
“True charity is a sharing which does not judge, which does not demand the conversion of others,” he said, adding, “It is free of that false humility which, deep down, seeks praise and is self-satisfied about whatever good it does.”
The Holy Father concluded, entrusting the day to the Virgin Mary’s maternal protection and imparting his Apostolic Blessing.
On ZENIT’s Web page: